Chieftains Take Down Leominster, Remain Undefeated…Oct. 21, 2015

By Michael James LeClair

Poised for the win over Leominster                        Courtesy Eric Bachtell

Poised for the win over Leominster Courtesy Eric Bachtell

Entering Friday night, the Nashoba Regional and Leominster High School football teams were both flawless through five games. When the two squads stepped onto the gridiron at Doyle Field, something had to give.

In what could very possibly have been a preview of the Central Mass. Division 2 Championship in November, the Chieftains pulled out a heart-pounding 28-27 victory over host and Mid-Wach A rival Leominster.

“Our kids have had so much confidence all year,” Nashoba head coach Jamie Tucker told reporters following the contest. “You want to keep that momentum going every week. Leominster is one of the premier programs around, so to come in here and beat them is great, but we’ve got to keep fighting because we’ll probably see them again and some other good teams.”

The Chieftains improved to 6-0 on the season and 4-0 in Mid-Wach A while Leominster suffers its first loss and dips to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the league.

This one certainly lived up the hype as these two Division 2 heavyweights battled toe to toe all night long.

With Nashoba clinging to a 28-27 lead following a Leominster touchdown with 37 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the hosts elected to go for two rather than kick what would have been the game-tying extra point.

The Chieftains defense stood tall as Leominster quarterback Noah Gray’s screen pass fell incomplete to keep it a one-point Nashoba lead. Leominster couldn’t get the ball back as the Chieftains recovered the ensuing kickoff and held on for the win.

“That is a great high school football game,” said Tucker. “You play high school football for great games against great teams in great places. Leominster is obviously a great team. That was fun.”

Nashoba opened a 7-0 lead after the first quarter thanks to a one-yard touchdown run by Robert Atwood and a Matt Allaire point after kick with 3:30 left in the opening stanza.

The two squads traded scores in the second quarter. Leominster’s Gray ran it in from 10 yards out with 7:57 left before the guests reclaimed the lead on a Jake Benjamin three-yard touchdown scamper and an Allaire kick with 3:38 to play.

The score propelled the Chieftains to a 14-7 halftime lead.

The second half was more of the same in this back and forth, see-saw affair.

The Blue Devils knotted things at 14 when Gray hit Tony Dandini with a six-yard touchdown pass followed by a successful kick early in the third quarter with 8:43 remaining.

Nashoba responded on the ensuing possession. Atwood found Tony Kennon with a 45-yard touchdown pass. Allaire’s kick was true and the Chieftains reclaimed the lead 21-14 with 8:17 showing on the scoreboard clock.

Leominster struck once more before the end of the third quarter when Allen Link hauled in a seven-yard toss from Gray and the game was deadlocked at 21 heading into the final 11 minutes of action.
Atwood went to work once again as he gave Nashoba the lead midway through the fourth quarter when he capped a drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge before Allaire added another successful kick to make it 28-21 with 5:46 left in the ballgame.

Nashoba returns to action on Friday night when it tries to complete the Twin Cities sweep as Fitchburg High will venture down Route 117 to Bolton. The Red Raiders will be looking to rebound from a tough loss to visiting Shepherd Hill at Crocker Field on Friday, October 16.